TRACY — With four reserves checking in at the scorer’s table, Lathrop coach Nathan McGrath left them with one simple message:
“Show me something, guys. Show me something.”
They achieved that, but not enough to overcome West in a 72-57 loss Thursday. West is the four-time defending champion of the Tracy Winter Holiday Classic and hosts East Union in the semifinals tonight at 7.
Deshawn Kelley scored eight points including back-to-back 3s in the fourth quarter to draw the winless Spartans (0-8) closer, 64-51, with 2:47 left in the game. West (5-4) was ahead 62-43 when McGrath pulled his starters out with 4:50 to go.
“At least they work, play hard and do as we ask,” McGrath said of his substitutes. “It’s so frustrating right now to watch these talented kids try to play basketball all by themselves.”
McGrath hinted that changes could be made to the starting lineup for tonight’s consolation-bracket showdown with Castlemont.
Lathrop had no answer for West guard Elijah Tuando, who scored a game-high 27 points while hitting five 3s in the process. Ephraim Estell was a force for the Wolf Pack despite limited action due to foul trouble. He ended up with seven points, eight rebounds and four blocks before fouling out in the fourth quarter. Demariea Williams contributed11 points.
It was an uphill climb for Lathrop from the outset as the Wolf Pack rolled to a 17-3 lead. The Spartans didn’t make their first field goal until Isaiah Ellis’ fastbreak layup with 41.7 seconds remaining in the opening period. Avraj Bal made a 3-pointer at the end of the quarter to make it 17-7.
Lathrop did well to cut the deficit to five on three occasions in the second quarter and trailed 33-28 at halftime. Ellis spearheaded the comeback charge by scoring nine points and dishing out three assists in the period. He finished with 16 points and four assists, while Bal added 11 points and seven rebounds.
Tuando helped West widen the gap by scoring six straight points for his team at one point in the third, when the Spartans were limited to just eight points.
The Wolf Pack took advantage of Lathrop’s sometimes-lackadaisical effort on offense and struck with easy transition buckets. They erupted for 25 points in the final period.
“It’s just frustrating as a coach to watch a team that can play so well at times and look equal to their competition and then for 5-6-minute stretches absolutely disappear,” McGrath said. “In my honest opinion our record does not reflect the talent that we have on this squad. It’s back to the drawing board right now.”